Statement of CSPI Senior Policy Associate Meghan Maroney
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a proposed rule that will make widespread improvements to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package. WIC is one of the most effective programs for improving access to nutritious foods with over 6 million women, infants, and children relying on the program. The proposed rule will update and strengthen WIC food packages to follow the latest science-based recommendations of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine for what is best for health.
The proposed changes include an increase to the overall benefits value that will allow more purchases of fruits and vegetables, limit juice, require all approved cereals to be at least 50 percent whole grain (consistent with the school meals program requirements), limit approved milks to be unflavored, and set sugar limits for yogurts and soy beverages. The proposed rule also includes important flexibilities to honor cultural or religious food preferences and supports individuals with food sensitivities or allergies. The food industry can and has successfully reformulated products for other child nutrition programs such as school meals and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. We believe they should be able to do so again to meet the science-based standards stipulated by the proposed rule.
Unlike other nutrition programs, WIC has a very specific charge to supplement the diets of women, infants, and children who are at nutritional risk. These proposed changes to the food packages will make it easier for moms to get the nutrition they need and build healthy habits for life for their babies and children participating in WIC. We applaud the USDA today for doing right by moms and kids.